Six-run first inning leads to victory –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Two teams within one game of each other in the standings met on Thursday, June 16 at the West Union Recreation Park in a Southern Ohio Youth League “B” league baseball battle as Coach Austin Kingsolver’s West Union squad hosted “Team Latos” from Peebles, coach by Jay Mahan.
It is a unique season for the young men from Peebles dubbed as “Team Latos” as their sponsor for the season is former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mat Latos. Before last Thursday’s game, Coach Mahan explained to the Defender how that relationship came about.
“We became friends with Todd Frazier and his wife and did some remodeling work at their house,” said Mahan. “They referred me to their friends and that kept going until we became friends with the Latos family. When he got traded to Chicago, they need someone to take some of their stuff from Cincinnati to Chicago and I offered to take it to them and in exchange they offered to sponsor our team. They are all behind us and keep track of our team on Facebook. He does want to try to come to one of our games and meet all the boys. They are very nice people and were more than willing to help us out.”
Thursday night’s game began with the Peebles boys striking in the top of the first, getting two runs off of West Union starter Zane Kingsolver, with Wyatt Cluxton and Logan Mahan crossing the plate on a base hit to right by Mason Lewis.
That lead was short-lived, however, as the Dragons came up big in their half of the first, getting to Peebles starter Logan Mahan, who was plagued by control issues, for six runs. A throwing error by Mahan put West Union lead off hitter Conner Campbell on base and walks followed to Cameron Campbell and Kingsolver. A base hit by Brycen Staten, a walk to Derrick Pell, a two-run single by Dakota Pell, and walks to Logan Applegate and Aden Weeks gave the home team a 6-2 advantage after one action-filled inning of play.
West Union picked up two more runs in the bottom of the second, with the big hit being a three-bagger by Staten. Peebles bounced back in the top of the fourth with a four-spot, getting walks to Cluxton and Mahan, then three consecutive hits from Brennan Barr, Lewis, and Brennan Kyle to cut the deficit to 8-6.
West Union answered that Peebles rally with two of their own in the bottom of the fourth, on base hits by Kingsolver, Staten, and Braxton Blanton. The visitors got one back in the top of the fifth when Bryce Willoughby walked and came around to score, but West Union again matched that score with a fifth inning round-tripper off the bat of Steven Runyan and when Peebles went down in order in the top of the sixth, the home team had laid claim to the 11-7 win.
“At the plate, the top of our lineup has been pretty consistent all season,” said Coach Kingsolver. “Now the bottom of the lineup is finding a way to get on base consistently and that is a huge part of why we have been successful lately. Our pitching has played a large part as well, striking out battlers is part of why we are on a big winning streak. It also helps a lot that our defense has made some big plays behind our pitchers.”
“The entire lineup gets involved offensively, we strike out batters, and then we win games.”
After additional games last weekend, West Union stands at 10-3 on the season, while Peebles sits at 8-4, with the regular season winding to a close and tournament play set to begin soon.